by Sylvie Green
Pickleball is a combination of badminton, ping pong and tennis, played with a plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball. The court, which is the same size for singles and doubles, has the same markings as badminton, and the net rests on the court as in tennis.
Pickleball is a game for everyone. Those with little to no athletic ability can pick it up quickly. Beginners can enjoy it as much as advanced players. Because many middle school and high school students have played and enjoyed pickleball in their physical education classes, it is a good sport for camps and after-school programs. Pickleball also attracts retirees, who are often interested in playing during the day, when most facilities have court space available.
According to Cheryle deMarco, owner and operator of Rockwall Indoor Sports Expo (RISE) in Rockwall, Texas, “Most of the people that play here are seniors.” During the summer, however, kids in day camps also play. “It’s really for all ages,” Cheryle says. Pickleball at an indoor facility is particularly attractive to seniors and other players who prefer playing in the climate-controlled environment, with no need for sunscreen or threat of rain, although facilities with outdoor areas can easily accommodate pickleball on their tennis courts or other surfaces.
Facilities do, however, need to consider that the bulk of the game’s enthusiasts may be on a fixed income, unable to pay high fees. An annual membership fee may be enough to cover costs and still add to your bottom line.
“You can’t charge a lot,” says Cheryle. She charges pickleball players at RISE a membership fee to use the court during the day but does not charge an additional rental fee. Because players tell their children and grandchildren about other programs at the facility, such as leagues and birthday parties, the pickleball program is good for general business, too.
“We also have pickleball tournaments on the weekends. If you’re going to do a tournament, you have to be able to dedicate one court, or possibly two courts, for the whole weekend, or at least one day. That’s kind of tough for us sometimes, but we do have times during the year that we can do that.”
Pickleball can add variety to your programming. It is a terrific addition to corporate events and birthday parties, as everyone can enjoy it, no matter what their fitness level. Because many seniors enjoy pickleball, it can also be another way to occupy slow daytime hours. It is a fun game that can add value to your business with little effort or expense.